Flu Pandemic Planning for Business – Alert Guest Blogger: Mark Landa of Sullivan & Ward, P.C.

In a recent Boston Globe article highlighting the emphasis on corporations planning to meet the challenges to be posed by a flu outbreak, it was asked, "If a super-flu sweeps the globe, who will haul away the garbage? Keep the factories running, making cars and computers and tissues? Stock and sell groceries? Who will keep the electricity flowing?"

A survey of U.S. businesses has revealed that two thirds are not adequately prepared to protect themselves from an influenza pandemic and 39% say there is not much they can do anyway. A national preparedness plan issued by President Bush in November stated that, in a worst case scenario, the country will need about 750,000 ventilators. U.S. hospitals estimate there are 105,000 ventilators available today and 100,000 are currently in use. The nation’s school, long recognized as being incubators for flu and other viruses are being told to plan for the possibility of a flu outbreak. Regardless of the planning for such an event, all federal and world health organizations have warned that we should be prepared to plan for a widespread flu outbreak as if a blizzard is coming – a blizzard that could last up to 18 months.

World and U.S. Health organizations have also concluded that vaccinations will not be available to protect us from the spread of influenza and that the only defense for at least the first six months of any true pandemic will be the health precautions that businesses, schools and churches take to prevent its spread among workers, students and congregations. All organizations are advised to establish a plan to prepare for the likelihood of flu outbreak whether it is limited to a local region or is worldwide.

The Iowa Department of Public Health has recommended that community planning be initiated as soon as possible and that this planning occur at the county level.